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Flights delayed as dust storm hits Phoenix area

By Scott Thompson, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The violent dust or sandstorm typically occurs over desert land
  • It stretches thousands of feet high

(CNN) -- A massive dust storm enveloped areas of Arizona on Tuesday night, causing low visibility and delaying flights in and out of the state's largest airport.

The violent dust or sandstorm called a haboob typically occurs over desert land and can stretch thousands of feet high, according to the National Weather Service.

It prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to issue a ground stop of about an hour and 15 minutes at Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport.

The storm had sustained winds of up to 69 mph and stretched more than 30 miles long at one time, according to a meteorologist for CNN affiliate KNXV-TV.

Parts of the state were also under a severe thunderstorm watch Tuesday night.

More than 10,000 customers were without power at the height of the storm, said spokeswoman Jenna Shaver of the Arizona Public Service.

Many of them now have power, she said.

Haboob comes from the Arabic word for wind and is used to describe sand and dust storms across the world.

In addition to visibility that can cause accidents, haboobs can also uproot trees, damage roofs and bring down power lines.

CNN's Marlena Baldacci contributed to this report.

 
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